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Karthik: 'I'll do everything I can to be on that flight to the T20 World Cup'

The wicketkeeper-batter has excelled in the finisher's role in the IPL in the last three seasons, and is back in the reckoning after a stellar show for RCB

S Sudarshanan
S Sudarshanan
20-Apr-2024
Dinesh Karthik will be 39 by the time the T20 World Cup starts in June. But he is showing no signs of slowing down and has said he would do "everything I can" to be on the flight to the competition in the West Indies and the USA.
On the back of a stellar show for Royal Challengers Bengaluru in IPL 2024, Karthik is back in the reckoning as the wicketkeeper that bats in the lower-middle order. He has scored 226 runs, the third-most for RCB, at a strike rate of 205.45 primarily batting at Nos. 6, 7 and 8.
"At this stage in my life, it would be the greatest feeling for me to represent India," Karthik said on the eve of RCB's game against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens. "I am very, very keen to do so. There is nothing bigger in my life other than representing India in this T20 World Cup.
"I also feel there are three very, very stable, honest people who are at the helm to decide what should be the best Indian team for the World Cup -- Rahul Dravid, Rohit Sharma and Ajit Agarkar. And I am completely with them. I respect any decision that they take. But all I can say is I'm 100 percent ready, and I'll do everything I can to be on that flight to the World Cup."
Ahead of the competition, Karthik had indicated that IPL 2024 will be his last and that he would also take a call on his international career soon. But the last three years in the IPL have liberated him to an extent that he made a strong case for the finisher's role and made it to the T20 World Cup in 2022, which was his last outing for India.
No batter has scored more than Karthik's 604 in the last three IPLs while batting at No. 6 or lower. And his strike rate of 175.07 is the best among those with over 280 runs in the said position since IPL 2022. He attributed his success to understanding his strengths and preparing accordingly.
"These days as a player, you need to understand your strengths," he said. "I'm not a [Andre] Russell or a [Kieron] Pollard who can just mishit a ball and get a six for it. So, I need to understand how I can beat gaps and what sort of balls I can hit for boundaries. And I realised there was a certain pattern in which bowlers were bowling to me, so I needed to try and work out a solution for that.
"Hence, when I practice, I try and understand, okay, if this is what they're going to bowl at me, how am I going to get a boundary, visualising a field that is going to be in place for me. So, I worked backwards, and that's helped me really learn a couple of shots more, at the back end. It's been great to go out there and express myself, and it's been thoroughly enjoyable to do what I'm doing for RCB as a finisher."
Recently, India captain Rohit Sharma was heard on stump mic joking about Karthik's World Cup aspirations. "Shabash DK! Dimaag mein chal raha hai iske World Cup (Good going, DK! He has the World Cup in his mind)," Rohit was heard saying when RCB played Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium. In that match, Karthik scored an unbeaten 53 off 23 and helped RCB to 196 for 8 after walking in at 108 for 4 with under eight overs to go.
"[I was] quite impressed, watching DK bat a couple of nights back, and Dhoni as well, came to play four balls, made a huge impact, that was the difference," Rohit said on the Club Prairie Fire podcast hosted by Michael Vaughan and Adam Gilchrist. "It will be hard to convince MS although he is coming to the US, to do something else. He is into golf now. DK will be easier to convince I guess."

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Sudarshanan7